Mar 09, 2023·5 min read
We’re back once again with those lovely folk over at Little Dreams Consulting. An award winning organisation who work with babies from 4 months to 10 years old, to help with all aspects of their sleep.
This time they are kindly sharing some top tips to promote better sleep for little ones. So if you are struggling with sleep, thanks largely to the newest member of your family, don’t despair. Read on for some tried and tested advice that will hopefully help you all enjoy a more restful night ahead.
One of the most popular questions we get asked at Little Dreams Consulting is “How can I get my baby to sleep better?”
Sleep, though a necessity, is very much a learned behaviour. If you have a little one whose sleep pattern is working for you as a family, then there really is no need to change anything, even if you feel it’s not what you ‘should do’ in the context of books or expert opinions.
However, if you are finding lack of sleep unsustainable, then we really hope these tips will help you.
To understand how to help your little ones sleep for longer, we need to understand a little about how sleep works.
Newborns are very different to everyone else, in relation to sleep. They spend roughly half their time in deep sleep and roughly half in dream (‘REM’) sleep, so these tips won’t work for them.
We often find parents start to have issues once their little one has developed sleep cycles, around 12-16 weeks…commonly referred to as the ‘4-month sleep regression’. At this time, we develop sleep cycles that last roughly 45-60 minutes and consist of light/deep stages plus dream sleep. Take a look at the chart below for a visual representation of this.
The difference between babies who sleep well and those who don’t, is that generally the little ones who don’t sleep well need help to get back to sleep every time they come to the edge of sleep. What happens is when little ones have relied upon something to go to sleep, they come to the edge of their sleep cycle and, if things are different (e.g. they aren’t being fed/rocked etc) they are confused and need that help (the feeding or rocking etc) to get back to sleep.
It would be just like you falling asleep in your bed with your pillow and duvet, but coming to the edge of sleep on the kitchen floor. Some little ones will, of course, need a feed or two to get through the night, but when their sleep is very disturbed it can impact their growth, development and your sleep too.
As highlighted in the chart, nobody actually sleeps through the entire night, and these ‘mini wakings’ are very normal. But, if your little one is fully waking each time they come to the edge of sleep, then take a look at our handy tips.
Try to pop your little one down without them being reliant upon something. If your child depends on a “prop” to fall asleep like feeding, dummies, patting or rocking, then they will find it difficult to get back to sleep without their “prop.” If they rely on something external to fall asleep – something beyond their control – this will increase their anxiety and make it even harder for them to fall asleep by themselves. It will also mean they will probably wake regularly in the night for help to get back to sleep. Again, if this is working for you then there is no need to change anything, but if it’s becoming unsustainable this is something to consider.
However you choose to guide your little one toward their independent sleep skills, remember, consistency is vital. Children thrive on boundaries and if those boundaries move every night, you’ll create a confusing message for them.
Make a mental note on their awake windows and ensure you use the correct ones, so they don’t become overtired. Some children will only show sleep cues once they’re overtired, so be mindful of them but don’t rely on them totally, unless you know their sleep needs really well.
Have a bedtime routine which is the same every night and takes no longer than 20-30 minutes. Again, children thrive on routine no matter their age, and you may find that if it’s longer than 30 minutes, they may find their second wind and be very difficult to settle to sleep.
Don’t skip naps! Often parents think that by skipping naps or making their little one very tired by keeping them awake too long will help them sleep at night – but this is not the case. Children under 2½-3 years of age need naps to be well rested and not overtired at bedtime. Good naps mean a better night’s sleep too.
We hope this helps you and your family to achieve a better night’s rest. Let us know how you are getting on and we wish you ‘sweet dreams’.
If you feel like you need a little extra help with your little one’s sleep, you can book in a free 15-minute no obligation call ( or an appointment) with Jenna or a member of her team by calling her on 07572 309404 or email [email protected].
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